Further to Minute No. 2 of the meeting of the Licensing Board held on 20th February, 2017, consideration was given to a report, presented by the Licensing Manager, providing an update on the implementation of the Council’s Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Licensing Policy, including details of the Performance Management Framework relating to the Policy. The report highlighted:-
- The progress with the implementation of the Council’s Licensing Policy (Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Licensing);
- demonstrating adherence to the five outcomes required of an effective Licensing Service, as detailed in the report on the governance and operation of the Council (Dame Louise Casey, 2015);
- the Licensing Performance Framework – Second Quarter Results;
- the use of Licensing management information and recording systems (eg: Lalpac);
- Licensing Enforcement; Part 2 of the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Act 2006 requires the Council to have regard to the Principles of Good Regulation when exercising a specified regulatory function;
- Licensing Service – staffing update;
- statistical report of decisions made by the Licensing Board Sub-Committee (December 2016 to October 2017).
The Licensing Board Members discussed a number of salient issues:-
· the redevelopment of the Council’s Driver Knowledge Test;
· verification of the authenticity of BTEC courses and certificates (it was noted that a number of course certificates are not being accepted, temporarily, pending the outcome of an external investigation);
· attendance of licensed drivers at the BTEC (or equivalent) courses and also at the Safeguarding courses and ensuring that drivers complete such courses satisfactorily;
· written reminders sent to those few licensed drivers who have not yet completed a BTEC (or equivalent) course;
· content of the Safeguarding courses;
· illegal / unlawful parking of licensed vehicles in the Rotherham town centre and elsewhere; the extent of enforcement action undertaken by the Council’s Parking Services;
· CCTV cameras within licensed vehicles; spot-checks to ensure that cameras are ordered, paid for, remain fitted in the correct position within the vehicle and operate correctly in accordance with the terms of the Licensing Policy;
· cross-border working, ie: hackney carriage and private hire drivers obtaining drivers’ licences from other local authorities and working within the Rotherham Borough area; also, sub-contracting by private hire operators (some of whom have registered bases outside the Rotherham Borough area) involving drivers licensed by local authorities other than this Council; Members were informed that one northern local authority no longer issued drivers’ licences to applicants who lived beyond the distance of thirty miles from the boundary of that local authority’s area;
· the contracts for the transport of pupils between home and school;
· the national database about licensed drivers and applicants for drivers’ licences;
· the recording of the number complaints made against individual licensed drivers;
· the offence of smoking in a licensed vehicle and the fixed penalty (monetary fine) that such an offence attracts.
Members of the Licensing Board placed on record their appreciation of the work of the officers of the Licensing Service during the recent period of restructuring of the Service when a number of posts had remained vacant.
Resolved:- (1) That the report be received and its contents noted.
(2) That Members of the Licensing Board be informed of:-
(a) the further progress with the review of Private Hire Operators;
(b) the written reminder issued to licensed drivers (30th October 2017) to attend and complete the BTEC (or equivalent) course;
(c) the quality of the Safeguarding course – details of the refresh of the training course which applicants for Hackney Carriage/Private Hire Drivers’ Licences have to attend (including the requirement to attend punctually and complete the whole of the course);
(d) Safeguarding – details of forthcoming courses for licence applicants, which Elected Members of the Licensing Board may also wish to attend;
(e) the operation of the national database about licensed drivers and applicants for drivers’ licences; and
(f) the outcome of the external investigation into the authenticity of certain BTEC courses and the certificates of completion of those courses.
(3) That the Licensing Board Sub-Committee undertake a review of the licences of any licensed Hackney Carriage/Private Hire driver who is alleged to have completed a BTEC course for which the authenticity of the course cannot be verified by the current external investigation.
(4) That the Licensing Manager submit a report to the next meeting of the Licensing Board concerning the requirement for applicants for Hackney Carriage/Private Hire Drivers’ Licences to complete and pass the Driver Knowledge Test.